This week I was excited to learn more from my Papa about his family history. We had explored pretty in depth about the history of his father's family, the LoBues, but we had only touched lightly on his mother's family, the Gallinas. He was close with all his family, but especially his mother's side, and I was excited to hear these heart-warming stories again, but also learn some things I did not know.
Albanians in Sicily
In the 14th century, the King of Sicily invited mercenaries from Albanian to put down a rebellion in Sicily. For their service, the Sicilian King rewarded them with land he owned in central Sicily. The mercenaries were able to bring their families from Albania, which was having its own war against the Ottoman Turks and took the opportunity to get their families out. My Papa’s mother’s ancestors were these Christian Albanians who retained some of their language when they came to Sicily, which was very similar to the Greek language.
Because of this similarity, the Albanians were called Greeks in central Sicily. Most of them lived in the capital of the region of Sicily they occupied called piana de Gracia (Grecian plain). That is where my Papa’s grandmother’s family originated from. My Papa’s grandfather grew up around the villages of Contessa and Talena. Because Sicily was prone to attacks, many of their villages were built at the top of hills and were very much like strong-holds to protect against attackers (Magellan TV is has very good documentary called Italy from Above, and the first two episodes cover Sicily and its surrounding islands. I highly recommend it if you are interested in learning more). Eventually, by the late 1800s, the population was growing so much that there were not enough land or resources to support it. So many Italians left Sicily and moved to the United States, including my Papa’s great-grandfather, Joaquin Capaci.
Capacis in New Orleans
Joaquin and his brother had been merchants in Sicily and continued that line of work in New Orleans. They eventually saved up enough money to start their own store on the outskirts of New Orleans. Once they were able to establish themselves there, the brothers were able to bring their families to the United States. Joaquin’s wife was named Maria Shairo Capaci who came over with their daughter, Rose Capaci, who was my Papa’s maternal grandmother.
Rose was about one-year-old when they came to the United States and she grew up there in New Orleans. Eventually she met her future husband, Vincent Gallina, who came from central Sicily with his brother as stowaways on a ship. His illegal status did not prevent him from finding work, but, when he went to marry Rose, her father adamantly refused the marriage until Vincent could go back to Sicily and return legally. He did return to Sicily and came back to the United States in 1906 where he and Rose promptly married and move to California with his brothers and their families.
Rose and Vincent in Los Angeles & Move to San Francisco
Rose and Vincent initially moved to Los Angeles where his brothers had ended up, and they wanted to get into farming. This had been their line of work or their family’s line of work in central Sicily, where they had grown mostly tree crops. There was about 160 acres of land that they were looking at to buy and farm in Los Angeles. But it was on a mountainside and really rocky, which meant it was only good for raising cattle which the brothers knew nothing about. So, they passed on the purchase.This was between 1906 and 1912, before the movie industry had moved to the area. When Vincent’s daughters looked into where the property might have been, they discovered that that land was in the heart of what is now Beverly Hills.
Despite this purchase falling through, the Gallinas continued to look for farm land and learned that there was a lot of good land to be had in the Bay Area, particularly the Santa Clara Valley of San Jose. They ended up buying proper in a little village by the name of Cupertino. The ranch was on Prospect Avenue and bordered on an irrigation ditch that was adjacent to their property. Across the street is where the Apple campus and headquarters is now located. My Papa’s mother grew up on that ranch and was in the first graduating class of Fremont High School, something she was very proud of.
Rose Capaci Gallina, or Mama as they called her had had a very interesting life even before she came to California with her husband and his family. She was one of four children, and the only girl. She was known to have a lot of energy and projects going. Her daughters always said that they could not keep up with her energy level and work ethic. She was very smart, but she had never actually learned how to read. This was mostly due in part to being recruited one day when she was a young child to work in a cotton mill turning cotton into thread and therefore stopped going to school. She had hated school and enjoyed the work she was doing at the mill.
While she was working, she had been hiding the money was making from her parents but one day they found it. When they confronted her, she told them what she was doing and they made her begin going to school again. But she struggled in school greatly and complained, so eventually they conceded to letting her work and save her money. Though never diagnosed, more than likely she had a disability like dyslexia. Her daughters had tried to teach her to read later on but she had a hard time distinguishing the letters of the alphabet and could never get the hang of it. But she knew money very well, and knew how to keep track of it and add it very quickly. Her husband made a decent life for them too, and they had the ranch in Cupertino until the twenties when they lost it during the Great Depression.
The Great Depression
According to my Papa’s mom, when the depression hit, Vincent unfortunately could not keep up payments on the ranch and ended up losing it to foreclosure. But Rose pushed Vincent to keep enough money to at least get a house and through her determination and finagling, they got enough of a down payment to buy a house near downtown San Jose on Gifford Avenue. To survive, Rose and Vincent and their elder daughters got jobs in canneries.
During this time, there were a lot of fruit trees in the area such as cherries, peaches, plums, prunes, and nectarines, so there were many canneries there such as Libby and Dole. The family would get up at four in the morning, go and work nine to ten hours per day, come home and then do it again the next day. This was how they supported themselves during the depression and fortunately, because of the canneries, they always had work. But Vincent had another skill that he was able to put to use which was landscaping and landscaping art, which he had learned in Los Angeles when they lived there and something he had a passion for.
Vincent’s Life’s Work & Legacy
Eventually, Vincent found work with the city in their maintenance department and eventually became a landscape designer for the city. He would design the walkways, fencing, and rock work in the parks of San Jose. In fact,there is a park that is still there called Alum Rock park, in a little canyon outside of San Jose. He apparently oversaw and ran the entire design project, including all these beautiful rock walls and walkways. It seems that most of them are still standing within this park today.
During the depression, the government gave money to the cities to rebuild and beautiful them so that jobs could be created to stimulate the economy. This program was called the Works Progress Administration or WPA. This led to the creation and beautification of many parks, hospitals, and schools during this time. Vincent continued this work until he retired in the late forties or early fifties. At some point, during the 1930s, Vincent’s daughter, Mary, met her future husband there in San Jose.
A Sweet Encounter
My Papa’s mother, Mary was one of four girls. The girls were able to get jobs to support the family as well during the Great Depression, both in canneries and department stores and one as a nurse. Fred LoBue Sr., during this time, would sometimes have to go up to San Jose and help with the cherry orchard there, and he would try to see friends he had there while he was there. There was one particular young lady with the last name of Bon Giovanni who he had gone with for a little while but was just friends with at this time.
Well one evening, he picked up this girl and one of her friends, Mary Gallina. The trio went on their outing together, with Fred Sr. driving and the young lady in the middle of the bench seat and Mary in the passenger seat. While he was dropping them off, Fred leaned over the girl in the middle and asked Mary if she would like to go on a date with him. And that was the start of Mary and Fred Sr.’s romance. Fortunately, the girl was understanding and her sister was more of a friend to Mary, and that sister eventually became the Godmother to my Papa’s brother, Richard.
For a while, Mary and Fred Sr. maintained a long-distance relationship while he worked in the Central Valley, but during that time he wrote her some beautiful love letters. They were then married in April of 1938. It was during this time that Fred and his brothers were beginning to start the packing house in the Central Valley. Mary, a young newlywed with a Kodak camera, recorded all this by taking pictures of them building and assembling the first packing house, most of which were used as memorabilia in the later renditions of the packing house. It is interesting for me, knowing her when I was a child, imagining my great-grandmother Mary being about my age, taking pictures of her husband, getting to know the area that is now my hometown, and making a new life as a married woman.
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To read the beginning of this story, visit last week's episode, "Sicilian Roots and the American Dream."
This week we continue where we left off and learn more about the family business, my Papa's parents and their early lives as newlyweds, and my Papa's own journey toward finding work he loved.
Railroad Packing House
When planning for a new packing house, the brothers knew that their best option was to build on a railroad track, where they could more easily ship and sell oranges to San Francisco and other areas. They hoped to find a packing house that was already built on a train track; however, their best and most affordable option was to lease a plot of land from the railroad and build a new packing house. They found a piece of land to lease at a good price from the railroad company which already had the foundation of another packing house that had burned down.
However, this was between 1942 and 1944, at the peak of World War II, meaning construction materials were not available as everything was being directed to the war effort. All building materials that they needed such as cement and steel beams were completely inaccessible. After the war was over, in 1946, they built their first large commercial packing house in Lindsay, California, which was completely modern for the time with a round roof and steel beams. This commercial packing house expanded their capacity to take on more acreage and more volume, and they were also fortunate with timing in the market along with their sales experience. This led to quite the success story for the LoBue Brothers during this time, which is also when my Papa’s father, Fred, brought his new wife to the Central Valley.
Newlyweds on the Ranch
Fred Sr., who had begun taking over a lot of the farming operation in Tulare County, would drive up to San Jose to help with Cherry picking season in late Spring/early Summer. He still had a lot of friends up there who he would see when he visited. On one of those trips, he met my Papa’s mom, Mary, through a mutual friend. Mary and Fred carried on a long-distance courtship for a time, in which he wrote some beautiful love letters to her that are still with someone in the family. I recently found a letter from my Great-Grandmother’s sisters to her shortly after she was married, which was probably written around this time. In the letter, her sisters teased and joked with her about being pregnant and asking about her new life as a married woman.
After they got married in 1938, Fred and Mary moved to the 40 acres “Home Ranch” that the family owned in Tulare County. Eventually, the family purchased property with 160 acres in an area 20 miles north of Lindsay called Ivanhoe around 1941, which is where my Papa and his siblings grew up. My great-grandmother Mary was there to watch as each LoBue brother fell into their respective roles in the company and took many photographs of them working in their various roles in those early days.
The LoBue Brothers
Each brother and their children were attracted to certain areas of the business which contributed to its success: Monte LoBue took charge of overseeing the packing house operations while Fred LoBue Sr. oversaw the farming. Monte had gone to Junior College and studied bookkeeping and accounting, so he took on those responsibilities while Fred Sr. had gone to a technical high school where he learned how to weld, use cutting torches, and other important skills that would help him run the ranches. But when there was less to do on the ranch, Fred would also help out at the packing house. My Papa can recall watching his dad do manual labor like stacking boxes there.
Joe LoBue Sr., the youngest of the brothers, was very young when they bought the property in Tulare County. His family had hoped that he would go to school to become a doctor, but he was not interested in attending college past junior college. As their father, Philip, got sick and could do less and less, Joe began taking on more and by twenty-years-old or so, he was doing a lot of the work at the San Jose ranch. This continued after Philip passed as well, in 1941 at the age of 61. Soon, my Papa also began to take help out with the farm duties at a very young age.
Mary and Fred’s First Homes
Papa’s earliest memories are of growing up on the ranch in Ivanhoe. The person they had bought the land in Ivanhoe from was a San Francisco businessman by the name of CW Weld who owned a chain of hardware stores in and around the Bay area. This particular piece of land had been leveled with mules some time during the early 1900s and the Welds planted oranges there sometime between 1912 and 1914. The property had two homes, and one is where the Welds had stored many of their family possessions which were still there when Fred and Mary LoBue moved in.
As my Papa describes it, when his parents moved in, it was like moving into a home in San Francisco. There were all sorts of artifacts and antiques in there (though at that time they would have still been fairly new) and many of these still are passed down within Fred and Mary’s family. The house itself was a Craftsman style, “cookie cutter” home. Back then, you could order a kit and they would ship all the lumber and materials to you, and you would hire a carpenter to assemble the house. The owner of that home also built a second and third home across the street on twenty acres of land. When that family was ready to sell that acreage, my Papa’s family also bought that twenty acres of land and his parents moved into one of the houses there. And that was the house that he ultimate grew up in.
Childhood in Ivanhoe
My Papa has fond memories of growing up with his siblings and his brother on the ranch there in Ivanhoe. Eventually, after his grandmother passed in 1951, his Uncle Joe, Aunt Rosalie and their children moved next door when they sold the cherry orchard in San Jose. Papa and his younger brother, Richard, would ride their bicycles all over the ranch. While their dad would not let them venture far from the ranch out of fear of rattlesnakes and tarantulas, they would occasionally sneak away and climb the hills and buttes around there. As they got older, he did not mind them climbing and exploring the area as much.
Starting at around nine and ten years old, however, his dad would start putting him and his brother to work on the ranch. His dad would put blocks on the gas pedal and clutch of a ranch jeep so they could reach them while sitting in the driver’s seat. He had a choke on the hand throttle so they would not go over a certain speed. Then they would drive slowly down the rows of the trees so that they could spray them with a rig being towed behind. Though this would be his start in the family business, as he got older, Papa quickly found where he wanted to be in the company.
While his father worked the farming aspect of the company, Papa took an interest in accounting, even at an early age. He loved to collect data on things and kept logs of the weather and daily temperatures. He would keep track of all the money he earned and even made deals with his brother and cousins to take their money, invest it, and give them the interest. At the time, his uncle Monte took care of the financial side of the business. Once he was old enough, my Papa began learning book keeping from the book keeper who worked for them when he had a break from the manual labor jobs he did at the packing house.
Eventually he began to help with more and more office tasks, especially after he took typing in high school, which of great benefit. Most of the book keeping was still done by hand; All of the basic everyday recordings for account were done in books with pencil or pen. But he assisted with providing typed invoices for growers, farm reports, and railroad manifests to record the dates and contents of shipments when they were loaded. It was this experience working in the packing house where he found his passion, along with his dream to work there for the rest of his career.
Taking Over the Business
My Papa was not the only one to find his dream job in the family business; One of his cousins, Robert, mentored under my Papa’s dad, Fred Sr., to learn the farming management and got a degree that would help him with that work. He took those operations over when Fred Sr. grew ill and eventually passed. Robert’s brother, Philip, had an ag engineering degree, which helped them later on when they acquired a juice plant. Their other cousin, Joe Jr. – along with my Papa’s brother-in-law Ron – stepped into covering the sales operations and thrived in it. Each cousin seemed to – like their fathers before them – step into roles that they found a passion for working in that also matched their skillset. It was this exciting dynamic that my Papa attributes to part of his reasoning to carry on the legacy.
For my Papa, from the start, he knew that they would not be able to pay him much when he first got out of college. There had been a freeze (which always leads to difficult years for growers, packing house, and other agricultural professionals in the area), so they had to make do with what they had to keep on their most essential employees with borrowed money. My Papa worked for almost nothing, knowing that he was not only gaining important experience learning but also that he was going the be drafted, which did happen after one year of working at the packing house. When he returned, the woman they had as book keeper retired, and his uncle Monte offered him the job. He stayed there until Monte passed away, where my Papa then became President overseeing the finances and running the day-to-day operations like his uncle did before him.
Preparing for His Role
My Papa spent a lot of time and energy building the skills and knowledge he would need to work in the packing house one day. That included working for a family who had a pear packing business, but grew oranges in Tulare county and the LoBues packed for. Eventually, they decided to have their oranges hauled and shipped to their area in Silicon Valley since their pear packing operation only operated two months out of the year, while packing their oranges allowed them to keep it open for an additional six or eight months. My Papa got to know them and spent the summers he was in college working for them, knowing that he was building his experience for working in his family business.
In addition, he made sure that all of the courses he took in college would help in in making sure that he would be successful at the packing house. He took courses in accounting and computers and agricultural science that would be beneficial to working there. Though they were supportive of this, there was never any pressure from his parents to work in the family business, and they encouraged him to pursue other things if it meant more success for him, especially financially. But my Papa never had any desire to do anything other than the packing house, even when an opportunity came up to work for new upstart computer company in the Bay Area. How different life for him and his family may have been if he had chose that path. But my Papa believes that he may not have been as happy with his choice.
Taking Time to Find Your Passion
When reflecting on his own path and the paths of his children, my Papa thinks of the saying “find a thing you love doing, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” He never considered his job as just a job, or something that he had to go to just to pay the bills. It was something he loved doing and wanted to do, whether the money came or not. And early on that pay was not there, but eventually it did come. And as he looks back that the things he did as a child – recording the weather, working with money, taking data on daily things – he realizes that those were the building blocks or indicators for where his passion was.
These conversations certainly are not a new thing, but something a lot of people – young and old – still struggle with. Some know from a young age what they were meant to do and find their passion early in life and are able to successfully make a career of it. Some, whether they were discouraged by family or society or may have many passions take time to explore and go through many different things and then settle on their passion later. Others may be very sure of what they do not want to do, and after time exploring then end up falling into the work they love and are skilled at. There is no right way or wrong way about it; But listening to yourself, assessing your skills and passions, and going from there is a good place to start.
In this week’s podcast, I was excited to sit down with my grandfather – my Papa – for the first time and begin recording our conversations. While I have heard many of these stories before, I had him start at the beginning, from immigrating from Sicily, to his paternal family becoming farmers, and the eventual beginnings of being commercial citrus packers in the Central Valley of California.
Coming to America
Both my Papa’s paternal and maternal grandparents came from small villages in Sicily and migrated to various parts of the United States from there. His maternal grandmother’s parents – the Capaci Family – came from a village in central Sicily and migrated to the United States, sometime in the late 1800s and early 1900s. My Papa’s grandmother, Rose – known to her children and grandchildren as Mama – was born in Sicily and came with her family at a very young age. Her father and uncle settled in New Orleans where they became merchants and eventually opened a small grocery and general store on the outskirts of New Orleans.
Mama’s husband, Vincent Gallina – who was also from a village in the central part of Sicily – landed in New Orleans but in a less veracious way: He and his brother stowed away on a ship, evading Ellis Island which immigrants were required to pass through on their way to citizenship in the United States. Despite jumping ship in New Orleans and being here illegally, they were able to get jobs and stay in New Orleans, where eventually my Papa’s grandfather met his grandmother.
A Romance for the Novels
While Vincent Gallina’s illegal citizenship in the United States did not prevent him from finding work or living here, he met a force that was immovable on the matter: His future father-in-law. As the story goes, Rose’s father did not want her to marry Vincent because he was in the United States illegally. He said to Vincent, “you’ll end up marrying my daughter, getting her pregnant, and then you’ll get captured and sent back to Sicily.” Her father was firm that he did not want them to be married unless Vincent could be in the United States legally, which meant he had to go back to Sicily.
Vincent supposedly returned to Sicily and went then through the proper channels to come back to the United States, where he was then able to marry Rose who had waited for him to return. By this time, his brother had moved to California, where the newly married Rose and Vincent followed them.
A New Life in California
The Gallinas arrived in Los Angeles in 1906, shortly after the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. They later moved to the Bay Area where construction jobs were readily available as the city was being rebuilt. Vincent picked up landscaping as a career, which is what he did for most of his life after. Rose and Vincent would have four daughters while living in the Bay Area, including Mary – my Papa’s mother – who was born in 1911. Mary would go on to marry a man from another Sicilian family who came to the Bay Area: my Papa’s father, Fred LoBue, Sr. The LoBues were given the chance to come to America after a death in the family left them no choice but to make a new life elsewhere.
Fred’s father, Philip (or Fillipe) was born as one of several sons and one sister to parents near the coastal fishing town of Trabia, Sicily. His father had property which made them fairly well-off for the area. In Italy and other parts of Europe during that time, when a patriarch died his property and assets could only be passed down to his oldest son. This was done to keep plots of land together and prevent having tiny properties scattered across the European landscape. When his father died sometime around 1913, Philip’s oldest brother inherited the property and promptly fired his brothers – including Philip, who had two children and one on the way – saying that they were more expensive to keep on than hiring someone off the street. But he made them a deal: If you want to go to America, we have enough money to send you.
Of the siblings, all but one of the brothers (who was possibly too ill to go), took up the eldest brother on his offer to go to America. Philip and his wife, Vincenza (who later went by Virginia) decided to make the trek to the United States, despite being pregnant with my Papa's father, Fred. Virginia said good bye to her family in Trabia – fishermen by the name of Sanfillipo – and moved to Portland with his other brothers before later moving to the Bay Area. They would return to visit Sicily again in 1930.
A Visit to Sicily, Generations Apart
My Papa visited Trabia on a trip to Sicily, where he was able to eat lunch a mere twenty feet from where his grandparents stood in a family photograph (pictured above). Behind them in the photograph is a tuna cannery, where Virginia's family would sell the tuna they caught. There is now a hotel and resort in that spot in Trabia, where the cannery is now a restaurant, aptly named “Tonnara” as a reference to its past.
Decades before his visit, Papa’s grandparents returned to Sicily in 1930 to bring Philip’s mother, Josephine D’anna LoBue, back to the United States with them. She had been living with the eldest brother and - rather than leave her alone in Sicily - they brought her to America after he passed. She remained with them in the Bay Area until she died, and was most likely able to see some of Philip’s entrepreneurial endeavors there.
A Job in Portland
When they arrived in the United States, Philip was able to bypass Ellis Island and Angel Island by obtaining jobs prior to arriving. Fortunately for him, he had a cousin - last name Piazza - who was already living in the Portland area. He was able to secure a job for Philip with the Western Pacific Railroad headquartered there in Portland. My Papa’s father, Fred Sr., was conceived in Sicily and was born shortly after they arrived in Oregon in April of 1914. While Portland was the beginning of their life in the United States, they did not end up staying, and moved later to San Francisco.
While in San Francisco, Philip found opportunities there to support his family. While continuing to work for the railroad in San Francisco, he came to know of the market there and saw an opportunity to serve others and make a profit on his days off. He would buy fruit and vegetables at wholesale from the produce market and then peddled the fruit door-to-door with a pushcart that he had. While the concept is simple, when considering the hills of San Francisco, pushing that cart up and down the hills would have taken a considerable amount of strength. It was by no means an easy way of living, but it was common work for many Italians in the area at the time. (Perhaps the steep hills of the villages in Sicily helped them navigate the hills of San Francisco as well). Philip had a regular route of customers that he would service and sell the produce to at retail prices. He did this until he and Virginia had saved up enough money to purchase their own farming property.
While Philip peddled fruit in San Francisco, Virginia worked in canneries while also raising their four children. With their savings, they bought a ten-acre piece of land with a house in San Jose in 1927. The house there was built sometime in the late 1800s but had been remodeled before they moved in. My Papa was able to visit often as a child before his grandmother died, but he was given a rare opportunity to visit as an adult in 2003 with his sister, Phyllis. The house is still there in San Jose and the owners at that time allowed them to tour the inside of the house, but the farmland that was around it is now a distant past.
Cherries, Prickly Pears, and String Beans
The land was bare when the LoBues bought it, leaving Philip with a lot of possibilities of what to plant. With his knowledge of the market at the time, he had seen that cherries were a lucrative cash crop. But cherries took five years to come into production, which would have meant no profit coming from the land for quite some time. So, in-between the rows of Cherry trees, he decided to plant prickly pears. But prickly pears take two years to come into production, so in between the rows of the prickly pears, he planted string beans. The string beans were the first crop he was able to sell at market until a couple of years later when the prickly pears came into production, and, eventually, the cherries.
Philip built a packing shed on the property for the various crops he grew. However, rather than taking up precious farmland, he built the shed over a creek at the edge of the property. His ingenuity and determination allowed him to take some creative liberties over the traditional methods of farming and packing. Back then, however, there were not machines yet for grading, sizing, and packing like there are now. So each cherry bunch and pear had to be picked, sized, and packed by hand in this small shed at the edge of the ten-acre property. While the cherries were his main crop for a while, he soon set his sights on properties and produce beyond San Jose.
The “Home Ranch” and New Endeavors
In 1934, Philip began to take an interest in oranges after seeing their popularity and prices grow at the market in San Jose. Citrus was familiar to him: His father had grown pomelos back in Sicily. During the Great Depression, many banks were reselling foreclosed properties; All the prospective buyers had to do was catch up on the payments and take over the remainder of the loan. This meant there were many citrus properties in the state for very affordable prices available. Philip initially had his sights on Southern California since it was known that there were a lot of citrus properties in that area at the time. But his banker at Bank of America (then the Bank of Italy), told him that he did not have to go as far as Los Angeles to get farmland, but that there were eligible properties in a closer area: Tulare County.
Philip and two of his sons - including my Papa’s father who would have been twenty or so - boarded a bus to Tulare and met a Tulare County area bank manager for Bank of Italy at the bus depot. The manager drove them out to a property between Lindsay and Strathmore that had forty acres of oranges. They purchased the property, named the “Home Ranch,” which marked a new beginning for the family in Tulare County, and is still a property owned by the family company today. In the beginning, the family hired out for the selling of their oranges, but two duplicitous transactions led them to find other means.
Scorn Me Twice, Shame on Me
At the time, there were two different ways a farmer could sell their oranges: Through a co-operative or through a commercial packing house. Co-operatives would consist of groups of growers who would pool their money to build or buy a packing house and pack the crops at cost, so any profit from the sales would return to the growers who owned it. But selling the fruit, however, usually was done by another entity, and co-ops would often hire sales and marketing companies to sell the fruit for them. If you drive through Tulare County today, you will still see signs in front of citrus ranches that say “Proud Sunkist Grower,” as an indicator of being a part of one of these co-ops. Commercial packing houses, on the other hand, would usually be owned by a single entity that operated the packing house but would take a fee or price for packing the fruit for the growers. They would be responsible for the sale of the fruit as well. Some would purchase the fruit outright "on the tree."
When the LoBues bought the ranch in 1934, the intention was that the whole family would move to Tulare County and sell the property in San Jose. But shortly after, Philip was diagnosed with stomach cancer and had to stay in San Jose where his doctors were. So their sons, Fred Sr., Monte, and eventually Joe, moved down to Tulare County to man the ranch and sell the crops in his place. The first year, they sold the crops on the tree to some men with an agreed-upon price. The men came over a series of days, picked their oranges, gave them a check, and took the year’s crop away. When the LoBues cashed the check for their harvest, however, the check bounced, and the men who took their crop and year’s work were never to be found.
They were fortunately able to recover from that significant loss, but another scheme would soon weasel its way into their profits: Later down the road, they sold their fruit on the tree to someone else and signed an agreement to receive payment per box of oranges picked. When they signed the contract, they assumed that the boxes used would be the standard box size of the time (approximately 55 pounds). When the men arrived to pick the fruit, the boxes were larger and held about 12 pounds more fruit, significantly reducing the amount of payment they would receive for the fruit. After this second defrauding, Philip, his cancer in remission and still being the innovator and entrepreneur he was, said, “if you can pack the fruit, I can sell it.” Thus began the start of the first LoBue Brothers packing house.
Hard Work Paid Off
Thanks to Philip’s connections in the San Francisco market, he was more than prepared for selling his fruit there. His years of networking and hard work were able to profit him one more time on yet another enterprise. He told his sons to build a packing shed on the property in Tulare County and he would sell the fruit in San Francisco and teach them how to do so as well. My Papa can still recall seeing his dad drive off with a load of fruit in the truck to sell and being upset that he could not go with him. He typically went with his dad everywhere, but that was the one trip that he would not take him on.
It wasn’t long until neighboring farmers saw the prices that they were getting for the fruit and soon asked them to pack and sell their oranges as well. But with the demand for the packing house increasing and already expanding it a couple of times to accommodate, they realized they needed to be closer to a railroad where the fruit could be loaded into freight cars and shipped directly to San Francisco and other places. This led to yet another big endeavor for the LoBue Brothers.
Read the rest of the story in "Finding Your Passion and Work You Love." Be sure to sign up for our email list so you can receive notification when a new podcast is live.
How It Started
Welcome to Returning Time. I’m so glad you’re here. My name is Lauren, and I wanted to share with you a little more about how this all got started. The best place to do that is to start with when I was born:
I was born in a small town in Central California as the first granddaughter on both sides of my family. When I was born I had six (yes, six) very eager grandparents. Of my great-grandparents, six of eight were still alive to meet me. I was very loved (and spoiled) with plenty of grandparents and great-grandparents to watch over me. And some of my happiest memories involved spending time with each of them.
Special Distinct Memories
Growing up, I didn’t live too far from most of my grandparents; Most of them lived within a thirty-mile radius of me which meant a lot of one-on-one time with them. And each of them I have very special memories with: Sewing quilts with my Grandma Marlene in her attic sewing space, spending summers “teaching” my beanie babies in my Grandma Linda’s classroom, watching my Grandpa Jerry do woodworking in his shop, and going to historical reenactments and vacation trips with my Papa Fred.
As I get older, I realize that these memories are ingrained into who I am and reflect in the things I love and enjoy. But I don’t think that I would have realized how much I was like my grandparents if they weren’t still with us today. They each have incredible stories that I love to listen to. Their stories and the stories of their parents and grandparents inspire me everyday.
Retelling Their Stories
At the end of the day, however, I am just one person, and many of these stories I heard when I was a young child and some of the facts are a little foggy. Although I wish that I had the memory of an elephant, I do not. I also have a lot - and I mean a lot - of family members who I know either have not heard these stories or would like to have some way to keep them. As the oldest granddaughter on both sides of my family, and the one who seems to be most interested in doing so, I knew that this was a very important project for me to take on. Especially while I still had the time with them to do so.
Chance of a Lifetime
One of the factors that played into my decision to start this project was because of the rarity of the opportunity in front of me: I am twenty-eight years old and each and every one of my grandparents is still living. I do not think there are many twenty-eight-year-olds who can say that. And if they do, some may not have a relationship with each of them or their health has deteriorated. I don’t know why I was given this chance, but the older I got the more I knew I had to take this opportunity and take it soon. There’s only so long that I will be able to do this. And I hope that it will encourage others to do the same for those they love that are still in their lives.
Age Does Not Determine Our Value
I think it has been a long standing thing in history to compare generations, or to have an ongoing battle between one generation and the next. But one of the things that I really cannot stand about modern culture is the divisiveness between generations. Now, I’m a “Millennial” and much of the battles currently ensuing on the internet seem to be between millennials and the next generation, “GenZ.” But for a long while, many millennials were just as guilty for shaming the Baby Boomer generation and “Gen X,” and perpetuating the “Ok, Boomer” mindset.
I may be way off base as far as modern culture goes and how it all went down. But I can’t help but think about the effect this has had on the older generations’ motivation to tell their stories, and the younger generations’ willingness to listen. I believe that all generations, when given the opportunity to be heard, can give incredible value to the other and a different perspective on life, or at least provide a connection of empathy between them. Sure, technology is different, our daily lives may be different, but at the end of the day, we share as humans some of the most basic emotions and motivations for our lives, regardless of time and space. Even the youngest of us can provide value to someone who is older than them, since each holds a unique perspective and viewpoint of the world.
Encouraging Others to Tell Their Story
While I will be sharing the stories of my grandparents, my hope and goal is that it will encourage others to tell theirs or to record the stories of their loved ones. While each person is unique, their life story may have something powerful and valuable to someone else who may be experiencing the same thing. I often think about how siblings can grow up with the same exact parents and - in some cases - the same traumas. Yet their lives end up taking such a different trajectory from one another. While the time period, people, and circumstances may be different, tragedy is something all humans experience at some point in their lives. Hearing stories of those who have overcome tragedy (regardless of age) may help someone else in need, or provide inspiration or encouragement for the path of healing they are on. At least that is my hope. But time - sweet time - is always of the essence.
When I thought about the name of this podcast, I knew that time was going to be important, in more than one way. Not only were we exploring the stories of the past, I also have very precious time to do so. My goal is to hopefully have the opportunity to interview each of my grandparents. But just like everyone else in this world, I am not promised anything and can only make do with the time I am given, not knowing when that will be.
I also knew with the name that I wanted it to encompass all of my grandparents. I could have made a special podcast and blog for each of them, but again - time is not on my side here. But one thing that each of them did for me, especially at a young age, was give me their time. They babysat me, they spoiled me, they loved me, they took a million pictures of me (seriously, I do not think there are more photos taken of a single child ever), and they involved me in the things that they love. I really couldn't have asked for better grandparents and a better life as a child. I always felt safe and cared for wherever I went, which is something I know that many cannot say. And I understand and appreciate that about my life. I do not take that feeling for granted.
As I thought about the time that my grandparents gave me, I decided the best thing I could do - and the thing they would probably love most - is to give that time back to them. Really, I couldn’t begin to repay them, but I know what I can do to start is to spend time with them, learn about their lives, and listen to the stories I heard as a child and appreciate them even more now as an adult. I decided to start with my Papa, Fred, who is the unofficial historian of his side of the family.
About a year ago, just before the lockdowns of March 2020 hit, I had started on this project with my Papa so it was easy to pick up where we left off using Zoom. Not only can he tell you most of the people in the pictures that fill his attic space, but he also just has an incredible memory and a love for history and ancestry that I definitely inherited. I am actually very fortunate that a couple of my grandparents have that love for history and ancestry, but with a history of dementia on my Papa’s side, I wanted to start as soon as possible, especially because I think he has the most to recall and remember, and those things are not yet written down or recorded.
He is so intelligent and sharp, and he just loves to share about his heritage. He loves talking about his family and sharing his perspective but yet he is very unassuming and humble. He loves all of his grandchildren (there’s quite a few of us) and I remember how happy he was to find out he was going to be around to see his first great-grandchild - my daughter - who is now six. I’m really excited to share this journey with my uncles, mom, cousins, sisters, and eventually my daughter. It is a lot of pressure but I’m so happy we will always have something of my Papa to read and listen to, even when he is gone.
Join the Journey
So I hope that you will be able to join me as I embark on this journey to the past. I may be biased but I think my grandparents are pretty incredible and have wonderful life stories to share with others. I hope that they may bring value and joy to your life or encourage you to return time to a loved one of yours, or to even share your own stories. Age does not determine your value, and you have important stories to share, if you are willing. In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy my journey of returning time to some of the most important people in my life. Take care.
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About the Author
Lauren is a writer and business woman from the California Central Valley. Returning Time is a tribute to her grandparents and those loved ones who have passed on. She retells their stories here and on the Returning Time podcast.
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